Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fruit Salad with Mayo @ Pasifika 2013

I absolutely shocked and quite possibly horrified a workmate the other day, when I told him that my family used to have fruit salad with mayonnaise.  "Are you sure it wasn't yoghurt?" he asked, incredulous.

This is actually a chicken fruit salad, though it looks like the fruit salads of my youth.
In case you didn't realise, the Chinese (my family included) don't have much in the way of salads.  We like our vegetables heated, even tomatoes and lettuce (though not generally together—the tomatoes are often eaten with steamed or scrambled eggs, and the lettuce wilted in soup or meat dishes).  The northern Chinese have cold appetisers, but even then they are made of cooked potatoes or boiled peanuts or something.

I have always thought it a bit odd that we had fruit salad with mayo at family feasts.  Quite apart from the fact that having a salad at all was novel, mayonnaise seemed like such a Western ingredient, yet my Kiwi friends used it only for savoury mixes: potato salad, egg salad, coleslaw, maybe pasta salad.  Apart from the fruit, we also occasionally tossed in cooked potato cubes or hard-boiled egg chunks, making it somewhat closer to what the majority of New Zealanders would be used to.

Anyway, it turns out the Chinese are not alone in adding mayonnaise to salads involving fruit.  The Russians do it.  The Koreans have something similar, throwing in crab sticks and egg with the fruit.  And despite some Americans having negative reactions to fruit salad with mayonnaise, others seem to like it or even consider it unusual for fruit salad not to have mayo!

Today, we went to eat at the Pasifika Festival, an annual celebration of the cultures of the Pacific Islands. We strode past the "village" of Samoa, which was the first we came across and had extremely long queues. Instead, we fed ourselves from a stand in the Tuvalu cluster, where the men were busy grilling meat over a barbeque.  The women served us and scooped a salad swimming in a milky liquid onto the side of our plate—you guessed it, mayo dressing.

Barbequed lamb and chicken with a fruit and vegetable salad in thin mayo dressing ($10).
You only see some remnants of the salad in the picture above, but it was made with a mix of fruit and vegetables, including:
  • orange
  • apple
  • pear
  • avocado
  • cucumber
  • carrot
  • cauliflower
and probably some other things we don't remember.  And you know what, it really worked!  It was an important component in a delicious meal, which was probably the healthiest plate you could have ordered at the event, since nearly everything else seemed to involve coconut cream, fried bread or dessert of some form.

Watermelon with ice cream ($10).

Fried bread, with margarine and some kind of sauce ($2).
It's far too easy to eat way too much at festivals like this, but hey, it's only about once a year, and you can blame it on cross-cultural culinary research.  In this case, I discovered more ways people make fruit salads with mayonnaise.

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